Earlier this week, drug company Purdue Pharma entered a plea of guilty to three separate criminal charges. This plea saw the company admitting formally to its role in the current ongoing opioid epidemic.
Over the last two decades, an epidemic that has woefully contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands.
In a hearing held virtually with a judge seated in Newark, New Jersey, Purdue Pharma, maker of the drug Oxycontin, admitted to impeding the US Drug Enforcement Administration’s attempts and efforts to combat the crisis that is addiction.
Purdue acknowledged that they, as a company, had not maintained a program to effectively prevent their prescription-based products from being made available on the black market even though they had informed the DEA that they did indeed have such a preventative program in place.
Purdue also admitted that the company had provided the agency with misleading information to boost the company’s manufacturing quotas.
Purdue went on to further admit that the company, through a speaker’s program, reimbursed doctors as a means of getting them to hand out more prescriptions for its painkillers.
The company also admitted to paying for an electronic medical records company to send patient’s information, to doctors, in an attempt to encourage them to prescribe opioids.
Reportedly, guilty pleas have been entered on behalf of the company by Steve Miller, the Purdue board chairperson. The plea deal included penalties and forfeitures to the tune of $8.3 billion. However, the company will also pay the federal government to the amount of $225 million.
The wealthy family members who own Purdue Pharma, the Sackler family, also agreed to pay the federal government $225 million to settle any civil claims.
Although, at this time, no criminal charges have been filed against the Sackler family, the deal leaves open for the future possibility of charges being brought up.
In advocates’ eyes, the plea deal provides minor to little comfort, as many feel harsher penalties need to be handed down to the OxyContin makers and the company’s owners.
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the overdose crisis appears to many as growing worse. It has contributed to an estimated 470,000 deaths of Americans over the past two decades—from both legal and illicit opioids.
Do you feel that Purdue Pharma received a harsh enough penalty for its role in the opioid crisis?